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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  January 19, 2013 7:00am-7:59am EST

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eastern on monday and then monday night i will be here for something we call "the rachel maddow" show, at 9:00 p.m. eastern. it is a big day, take your vitamins and get a good night's sleep. that does it for us tonight. it's going to be a few, a few very good days. see you monday at 10:00 a.m. developing news from algeria. an american is dead and the hostage situation there, other americans are still being held. the latest in minutes. debt ceiling surprise. republicans retreat on their hard-line position. so why did they make the move and what does it mean for more budget talks? new word today from college football star manti te'o. he tells one network whether he was part of the girlfriend hoax. and a sign of the economy some atm machines will dispense something different in the near future. i guarantee you, though, it's still money. good morning, everyone. welcome to "weekends with alex
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witt." ahead of the president's second inaugural, more in a moment. first what's happening out there. developing news from algeria. a twist. one confirm apgs of a dead american. the standoff in its fourth dap at the plant near the border with libya. military attempts to free the captive left that one american dead amoung an unknown number of others. five americans worked at that complex. two confirmed having escaped, two more held. algerian state tv said earlier, they helped release hundreds of other hostages. joining us like from the white house, kristen welker. good saturday morning to you. the latest reaction from the administration on the hostagetaking. >> reporter: good morning. welcome to washington. the administration obviously deeply concerned about the hostagetaking. i it tell you the secretary of state, the president, have been in contact with leaders in the region since this crisis first
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started, and yesterday secretary of state clinton was pretty forceful in her remarks about the situation. she calmed it a terrorist act. i'll read a little what she said. let's not forget this is an act of terror. the perpetrators are the terrorist, the ones that assaulted this facility. have taken hostage algerians and others from around the world nap is her position. the state department also reiterating america's hard line it will not negotiate with terrorists. so you mentioned that there are still some americans who are being held there. the state department making it very clear there won't be any negotiations moving forward with them. the secretary of state also spoke with the prime minister of algeria yesterday. she has had several conversations with him since this crisis first started. president obama spoke with prime minister david cameron, and he is being briefed regularly on the developments of this situation, alex. one problem, though, is getting information that is very difficult to get. information from that region.
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it's often quite murky. alex? >> especially under these circumstances. >> yes. >> let me gelt to the domestic front. wow. what happened in williamsburg? because the house gop agrees to temporarily lift the debt ceiling for three months. what kind of surprise was that? what does that do for the debate now? >> reporter: alex, i think it changes the debate, because house speaker john boehner, remember, initially said that any increase in the debt limit had to be offset with dollar for dollar spending consults. so what happened over the past several days that the republicans essentially moved off of that point. they agreed to increase the debt limit without spending cuts to offset it. the provision, of course, is that in three months, they're sort of pressuring congress to get a budget deal passed, and if they can't essentially members of congress won't get paid. so that is what they are hoping will be the sticking point in this matter, but from the white house's perspective i think they see this as a victory. however, democrats not thrilled
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about the three-month extension and idea of increasing the debt limit ink kramentally. >> kristen welker from the white house. see you later. >> reporter: thank you. white house correspondent for the hill, amy parns and political reporter lauren fox. hello, ladies. night to have you both. i'm glad to be here. fun to be in the studio with you. >> thank you. >> what i was talking about what happened in williamsburg. with you, amy, republicans calculation about this is what? i mean, is this giving them any sort of leverage? is it a de-escalation of the debt ceiling fight? >> they're trying to force the arm of the senate in this way, because they want the sflat to move and pass a budget. so this gives them more leverage and there are new polling out that say some people are kind of behind this republican tack of trying to push the senate to pass a budget. they want, people want reduction in spending. this might work for them. the white house is saying they're encouraged by this. i don't know. it could fall under the kick the
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can down the road for obama. >> i wonder with you, lauren. does this allow them to kick the can downed road or give them more time to come to a long-term asgreemt do up see the rest of the budget playing out any certain way now? >> alex, we have to look back to 2011 when we had the fight back then, which propelled us into the fiscal cliff. he ended up kicking the can down the road and i think that's what we'll see again here. we have to remember, two other major fiscal deadlines. xwet trags, automatic budget cuts coming up first week in march. government runs out of money ton keep the lights on end of march. you'll have a culmination of all of these hitting at the same time. we may end up in a worse situation than we are in now. >> wow. hard to believe, but we'll see certainly. go to the inauguration with you, amy. what do you think the president's biggest challenge is going to be this term?
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>> i think over-promising. he wants to get so much done in a slim window. he has two years before he become as lame duck. >> that seems generous. >> yeah. so he wants to pass immigration. now gun control which is, that could were haven't a huge legitimate as it was, and then climate control and has to do all this when the economy is still sort of coming back and recov recovering. even some democrats are, whoa, i don't no fe that can all work. that his biggest challenge. >> given that, narrowed down the time frame. what is his big ticket item if he has, some would suggest, up to maybe 18 months, maybe two years? >> gun control is a bit of a heavy lift for obama on the hill. what we see is a lot of immigration reform and bipartisan, marco rubio introduced his plan endorsed by representative paul ryan in the house. seeing a build between the house and republicans, between the house republican, excuse me, and
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the senate democrats, on immigration reform. that's a ticket item we could definitely see him pass. >> house republican, senate democrats. here's the deal, amy. when the president started out four years ago, he controlled, democrats had control of both houses. so how much does that change his approach to trying to check off this wish list? it's not that way anymore. >> no, it's not. compromise is the name of the game. he's seeing that republicans want to compromise on certain issues. with gun control, you're hearing certain republicans talk about background checks. a willingness to do that, also some parts of immigration. i don't know if it's going to be some grand, sweeping deal, but, you know, republicans suffering a loss with the hispanic vote want to see that happen. i think if they can find middle ground on these issues he can have a successful term. >> if not now, gun control, lauren, when? when we think about newtown and that was what so galvanized this country to get some sort of measures passed. >> well, i think that, you know,
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when we had representative gabby giffords shot, everyone thought that was the moment, and then these children in connecticut, people thought, this is the moment. what we're seeing is a lot of variable democrats up for re-election in 2014 in the senate, and it's just a very hard bargain to drive for some of those red states. >> yeah. amy, get you an article i see highlighted. i read at home. highlighted. i do. this is obama runs afoul of dem base. you wrote this. talked about a few things. among the things in your examples, the chuck hagel nomination, a second term cabinet dominated by white men. how does the president deal with backlash from his own party? >> i think he has to start talking to them a little more. i've been hearing from democrat strategists angry about this. they need to be a little less
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sloppy as was the case with the pastor. they need to embrace this woman problem. it's been a problem with them for a while, since the start of the administration, melanie barnes going on a golfing trip, crist simple f criticism for not even golfing with women. >> good to see you both here. stick around. after the show, maybe we'll talk. more front page politics today. today is the last day of the gop's annual retreat and this year republicans focused on unity with a theme many voices, one conference. it all went down in williamsburg, virginia. house speaker john boehner and house majority leader eric cantor spoke at the event thursday. meanwhile, first lady michelle obama announced a new campaign organization. an extension of the group of volunteers and supporters who worked to re-elect president obama. >> so if we want to finish what we started and truly make that change we believe in, we can't stop now, and that's why today
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i'm proud that our friends and supporters are launching organizing for action. >> several members of president obama political team will be a part of organizing for action, including plouffe and messina. and big changes involving small change at an atm near you, and the puzzling story at notre dame. manti te'o finally answers questions about his fake online romance right here on "weekends with alex witt." meet the 5-passenger ford c-max hybrid. when you're carrying a lot of weight, c-max has a nice little trait, you see, c-max helps you load your freight, with its foot-activated lift gate.
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the inauguration comes on martin luther king day. 47 years since the death of doctor king. the first african-american president takes office for his second term. joining me in the studio, reverend jesse jackson, founder of the rainbow push coalition. a pleasure. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here. let's talk about dr. king and the perspective of what i said, 45 years since his death, but we have an african-american president for the second time taking office. give me your thautsds on that. >> there's immense pride in that. the fact is, for 244 years we were in slavery, the emancipation proclamation, jim crow, only free since 1966, from selma, alabama, really, to washington is quite a journey. the steps that he'll take the oath of office was built by ancestors who were enslaved, about 170 miles from jamestown,
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first landed in 1609. a lot ofs h s hahistory and loo across at the dr. king statue and lincoln memorial. the emancipation. a lot of stuff going down. i think dr. king, planning a poor people's campaign. beyond the issue of slavery, and segregation and the right to vote is access to a job, and so while we fought these big fights on fiscal cliff and debt ceiling, poverty is expanding. 50 million in poverty. food insecure, unemployed, and the disparity keeps growing, plus an impact of violence. so those issues must be confronted in this second go-round. >> how does the president go about doing that? i made the point in the last, before the last break that the president, at least at that point, had both houses of congress under his belt with a democrat majority. he doesn't have that anymore. can he put forward legislation,
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ideology, issues to help reduce that polarization? >> you know what, lyndon johnson opened up the war on immigration in appalachia. most poor people are white, female and young, and black and brown hunger hurts. 50 million, these people are malnourished, homeless or wandering. they're unbankable, therefore they're driven into expensive loan arrangements. they are poor. they cannot send their children to school. they cannot dream. 50 million more very close to them, this impact of growing poverty and racial polarization and violence is a hell of a combination, and i would think that now we must in substance take a hard look at poverty. and some plan for economic reconstruction. look at places like inglewood, the president organized, london or austin, 45% unemployment. 50% unemployment.
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must be some targeted jobs planning and, of course, it's cheaper to educate than incarcerate. >> i remember most poignant memories about election night was a picture of you with tears streaming down your cheeks there in grand park, and i'm wondering if you have the same sort of combination of joy and hope that that expressed to me about the next four years? >> you know, it was both the joy and the journey, because i thought about the people who really made the voting rights possible. a guy named carter, james, a guy that was killed and jimmy lee jackson, of course, another jamed during that season, and the martyrs who made it -- their blood -- they could not be there. either dead or -- i thought about that journey. the joy of president barack obama winning. i must say, in these last four years i'm impressed with what he has done. we were minus 4 million jobs.
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more americans are insured. more youth have pell grants. registry, in detroit, the number one truck, the ram, number one car, the cadillac, and more troops out of iraq. tremendous odds, against tremendous odds, he has done an amazing job. >> so many things on this president's agenda. i want to speak with you about gun control, because you come from chicago, which has suffered a pretty tough year with the number of murders in that city as a result of gun violence. do any of the president's policies in proposal, or in the think tank, do think address gun control and reducing the violence in our inner cities? >> only in some measure. i wrote president barack obama a letter, and vice president biden. in chicago, gun shops, gun ranges there. drugs come in from the mexica cartels so there are drug cartel there's. guns are manufactured in the
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suburbs on rock island. so guns and drugs in, plants closed, jobs leave. so you have a combination of drugs and guns in, jobs out, and this huge unemployment. there must be have appreciation of the urban crisis, all the -- 4% killed by assault weapons. >> 4% for assault weapons? >> yes. assault weapons are a big deal, because these weapons can only shoot people in theaters and schools, they can bring in airplanes. these weapons are a threat to our security. >> you're holding to task gun manufacturers. what do you want them to do? >> just as a cigarette manufacturers are responsible for their product, so must be the gun manufacturers for their product. >> makes sense. >> what strikes me, so many -- invested in gun manufacturing. funds invested. 32,000 kim add year. loss less than 6,000 in iraq in 10 years.
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32,000 killed. injured, who don't die, many others. the president is taking on a principled and tough-minded way. it's not about gun control. you want a gun for your house, you got it. shoot a relative, commit suicide, a gun for hunting, you got that. these assault rifles designed to kill. and the ak-47 in the white house. no defense against these weapons and no real place for them in the civilized society. >> i'm glad you make that point as well as others. thanks for joining us. talk to me on twitter. alex witt, my handle, i'll read your twits throughout the day. office politics. nbc white house correspondent kristen welker tells you about the grueling life out on the campaign trail plus the moment she knew the president was headed to victory. first, a big money mistake in canada. putting one of its symbols, a maple leaf, on its new $20.
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now to our big pre-money headline. signs of healing. more convenient cash, and the ultimate inaugural weekend. joining me, morgan brennan. good morning. >> good morning. >> so let's talk about this new survey which says fewer home mortgages are under water and more are returning to positive equity. what are we talking about and what do you think drives this decrease? >> 1.4 million homes restored to positive equity in the first nine months of 2012.
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according to corelogic. this is because we're starting to see substantial home price gains in certain parts of the country and so some of these homes that were so hard-hit in the downturn are stashti istarte positive returns. 1,100 homeowners still underwater. still a long way to go but positive news. sign as housing recovery really is starting to take form and move forward. >> that gets a big old, yeah, for sure. how about this "money" magazine reporting two banks with atms that dispense smaller bills. will that be commonplace? >> atms rolled out by chase and pnc now, distributing $1 and $5. chase says theirs will distribute coins soon. >> hmm. >> no other banks, mainly because of the extra costs with
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putting out $1, $5. still, there's two reasons we're seeing these banks do it. higher efficiency and allows them to keep their staff streamlined. >> quickly, tell you, it's expensive to be down in d.c. for the inaugural weekend ticket and hotel packages. high prices you're hearing? >> $475,000 is the number, if you have money and want to shell out the most for the most in the inauguration weekend. >> well -- >> ritz-carlton, and the inauguration committee as well. >> well, not what we're paying, and i'm happy to say that. that would be a waste, in my opinion. that's what it is. a lot of money. morgan brennan good to see you. thanks so much. the manti te'o hoax. the notre dame linebacker says he was duped by a person who has since apologized to him. jimmy fallon talked about it last night on "late night." >> ard-of-we have a recording of
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the washington monument is a stone's throw away behind me. the president, vice president and spouses out participating in today's national day of service. one of the things near and dear to the president's heart. he called for this four years ago in 2009 to get more americans involve ared and not only giving more money, which all of these organizations need, but their time, and it's paid off, because in 2011, they reached a five-year high in terms of volunteerism. two of the organizations here in this tent today, dozens here, american red cross is here. showing people how to save lives. giving cpr training. across the way, no kid hungry, fighting childhood hunger around the country. and alex, this place will be brimming with people. expecting about 8,000 to attend the inauguration monday. not all 800,000 will come through this tent today, but expect to see a good crowd. chelsea clinton is the honorary chair. a big program, it goes on all day. angela bassett, eva longoria.
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i'm excited about that today. a pretty big deal. the president wants people to focus on service today. not just around the d.c. around but around the country. those watching, if you want to go on your computer, go to, you'll find out all the activities takes place in your town. go out and help a good cause today, alex. >> it is. the president started this four years ago, he's doing it again. i know he really hopes, ron, that this become as tradition on inauguration weekend. isn't he? hoping that? >> reporter: well, not only that, but it's really in place for the martin luther king holiday, which coincides with the inauguration this year and monday. the 21st. the president's way of getting more people involved in the king holiday, a way to honor dr. king and give people a chance to see the king memorial here in washington as well. >> okay. send me the pick k4er tures of angela bassett and eva longoria. >> reporter: i will.
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and joining me, john harwood. cnbc's chief washington correspondent and political writer for the "new york times" and good friend to this show. gland to see you here bright and early in washington. kind of fun. >> kel you what, ron may be distracted by the hollywood actresses but i am laser focused on this inauguration and the second term of the president. >> asking you a bunch of questions. here we go. what do up think the main goals are that you expect the president to outline tomorrow in his address, or monday? >> i would expect the president to focus on the goal of trying to bring the country together behind some of the priorities that we all share. you know, when you look at the two things that the president brought into office, one was an agenda, a set of priorities he wanted to pursue on health care, on financial regulation, energy and climate change nthat sort o thing. a much bigger failure for the president in the first term, the goal of bringing the country together. part of his political identity when he broke on the national stage in 2004. we're a nation, not a blue
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nation, we're one united states of america. i think he's going to emphasize that and try to use that as a springboard into getting things done in the second term. >> he did put forth a lot of things he wanted to accomplish when he spoke to us in 2009. how many did he get done? >> health care, which was a huge accomplishment for him. something that bill and hillary clinton failed to do during their presidency. a democratic priority for decades. he got financial regulation, which is new rules for wall street, which are just in the process now are being impleme implemented, as health care is. neither had a full chance to take effect. he did not get his goals on energy and changing the energy foundations of the american economy. he's going to try to do some of that in his second term with regulatory authority, and he did achieve some measure of economic stability and recovery, but there's a way to go. remember, he took office during a financial crisis, losing 700,000 jobs a month. we're growing, but growing
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slowly. he's got to try to build on that. >> picking up on that right there, it is a rather mixed bag when you look at the answer to the question, are you better off now than you were four years ago? let's go through some of the accomplishments. median income, federal debt, americans on food stamps, all down. worsened. staying on par, unemployment, same as four years ago. the dow nearly doubled. the iraq war is over. if you look at it, all things considered, are we better off? >> no question economically 're better off as a country than when we took office, because we were headed straight down. gdp shrinking, unemployment soaring at that point, losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every month, and now even though the level of unemployment is the same, the direction is in a positive place. yes, we're better but have a long way to go. we're growing, recovering, but the growth and recovery is too
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slowly and in an overhang, we saw it in an nbc news/"wall street journal" poll. 3-1, people thought budget negotiations in washington were harming their view of the prospects for an economic recovery. that's what the fiscal cliff is about, the debt limit discussion is about and the president's trying to get past that. a positive sign yesterday from republicans moving towards his position to say, yes, we're going to raise the debt limit even if we don't identify dollar for dollar -- >> give more time to get it done. i want to talk about gun control, and the numbers that came in on that. 56% of respondents want stricter laws. 42% say no change or less strict laws. is that enough for the president to get his gun control initiatives through congress? >> no. one of the things that we see in gun control as in some other issues is an asymmetry between the people who, in larger, the number of people who in general support stricter law, but the
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intensity, the fervency of people who oppose those las. so the intensity is on the side of the opponents. one of the things that might have surprised some people in our journal nbc poll was the national rifle association had a somewhat better image that some people expected. on par, on balance, it was a positive image. only down slightly in terms of the negatives since the newtown tragedy. and so you know, you look back in history. after columbine, the nra was in neg territory, but after the gabby giffords shooting two years ago in positive territory. they're still isn't positive territory and they're the leading edge of the effort to turn back those restrictions. that doesn't mean the president can't get them through, but it's going to be difficult. >> john harwood, always good to see you. thank you so much. >> you bet. in this week's office politics, we talk with nbc without correspondent kristen welker. kristen spent last year on the obama campaign trail and talks about the moment she knew the president was headed to victory.
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i began by talking to her about the challenges of living on the road for months. >> it was a challenge, but it was so thrilling. i'd always wanted to cover a campaign at the national level. so i woke up and i was excited every day. it was just a thrill to literally watch history unfold and to be a part of that. the biggest challenge was that it was exhausting, and there was a physical toll, which i wasn't prepared for. i wasn't prepared for getting sick on the campaign trail. it's not easy to just call up your doctor and say, hey, i'm not feeling well. you have to literally do a lot of improvisation and, remember, you're eating sort of what's put in front of you. when you're on the campaign trail, 90% of the food is a carbohydrate. so that's a big challenge. especially someone like myself, who likes to be healthful and exercise a lot. exercising goes out the window. you try to sneak in sit-ups before you go to bed. but you're not getting a lot of sleep. so that in and of itself is a challenge.
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one of the things that goes on behind the scenes when you're covering a campaign is that you get to talk to senior advisers often, off the record. and that's when you get, really, a sense of where their mind-set is. when you're covering a campaign. and so the challenge is to get that information off the record, but then to find way to get some of it, at least, on the record. but it's a -- >> that's a fine line. >> a very fine line. it's a very fine line, and i think that -- it's a challenge, because you're working with these people every single day. and at the same time, you need to be holding them accountable every single day. >> they'd freeze you out as well if you don't like what you say? >> that is a possibility. i think that if you can back up your reporting, if you can support it, if it's fair, they won't freeze you out even if you're being tough. so the challenge is to be getting as much information to the viewer as possible, while
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being fair. >> at what point did you feel like the campaign was certain of its victory, or did that not come until november 6th? >> the moment that i knew they were confident and that it seemed like he had a real shot of winning, and rebounding from that horrible first debate was during hurricane sandy. the press corps got stuck in florida, in tampa. we couldn't travel, because of the weather. and i decided to do a story on early voting. so i went out to an early voting center, and it was the middle of the afternoon, and there were -- there was a line stretched around the corner. hundreds of people lined up, and i talked to a lot of the people, and a lot of them were voting for the president, and i thought, this idea that his base is not going to turn out is actually not what we're seeing in early voting. >> and in florida. >> and in florida. >> which was one of those states
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to watch. >> which was a huge swing state. hugely important swing state, and, remember, right up until election night, a lot of people thought the president was going to lose florida. so having that sort of firsthand experience with early voting, seeing how many people had lined up, i thought, you know what? the president might, in fact, rebound and win this after all. >> yeah. >> and i think his campaign felt confident as well at that point, and started to regain their confidence. more of our conversation today at 12:00 noon. kristen will share behind-the-scenes of the daily grind in the white house press ochss, plus what's she and george clooney have in common and the favorite passengers aboard air force one. next, victim or villain? manti te'o breaks his silence about the dead girlfriend hoax. you're watching "weekends with alex witt," live from the nation's capital. there are patients who will question, why does my mouth feel dryer than i remember it to be?
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in a new interview last night, disgraced cyclist lance armstrong became emotional with oprah winfrey. armstrong at mitted doping toured all of his to you de france victories's in part two, choked up telling his son that the rumors were true. >> i saw my son defending me and saying, that's not true. what you're saying about my dad is not true. that's when i knew i had to -- tell him. and he's never asked me. he'd never said, dad, is this true? he trusted me. >> uh-huh. >> and i heard about it in the hall ways -- i said, don't defend me anymore.
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>> armstrong acknowledged he's far from winning back the public's trust. admits he may have lost some supporters for good. now, notre dame's manti te'o is breaking his silence on how his story of overcoming tragedy was actually a hoax. te'o sat down for a brand new off-camera interview with espn, and te'o says he was a victim and never part of the elaborate scam. joining me, rob from msnbc sports. >> good morning. >> such an interesting story. did we learn anything up in from the interview that might suggest he was part of the hoax or not? >> everything i learned from the interview and the excerpts i read, what i've heard is, it's pretty clear, i think he was not part of this whole situation. he talks about how, you know, he was all wait through this, believed this was real, and he explained some of the inconsistencies in what has been said. particularly some things that his father said. te'o's father did say that manti te'o had met this now fictional
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girlfriend at one point, and manti told jeremy shaap, well actually i did tell my dad that i met her, because i guess he figured his dad thought this whole thing was really strange so he wanted to get his dad to believe he had met her. even he says, manti te'o, that he knew it was strange to have basically an online relationship with someone, but that it was real. >> absolutely. you know what, i want to give the quote backing up what you say. trying to explain the confusion whether or not he met this supposed girlfriend or not. he said, i knew it was crazy i was with someone i didn't meet so i tailored my stories to think, yeah, he met her before she passioned away so people wouldn't think i was some crazy dude. overall, are the sports world, how is that arena raeshlgeactin that answer? >> we'll see. it's interesting, alex. what my theory is behind this entire really weird story, behind this hoax, lance armstrong. i'm obviously kidding.
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>> what? >> i'm obviously kidding, but my point is this. first of all, funny to see how much attention has been taken off lance armstrong this week by this manti te'o story, but my serious point is that you look at the issue of trust of sports stars. right? in the same week we've got lance armstrong, who we obviously, people trusted him for a decade or more and were inspired by, and now he's turned out to be nothing but a giant hoax and a sham. right? and we've got manti te'o who was a victim of a hoax possibly, but we're having a hard time believing that. i think stories like lance armstrong are part of why we're having such a hard time believing manti te'o could have been a victim. >> yeah. other than the lance armstrong theory, which you know we're kidding about, he did say that two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing. hoop is he talking about? >> well, he's talking about a guy named tuiasosopo. ronaiah tuiasosopo, a high school athlete in california and
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apparently has been behind a very similar hoax. according to at least a couple of witness whose have said that this guy pulled the exact same hoax on someone else. i mean, exactly the same using the same name of the fictional girlfriend. using twitter. using the same picture of a completely unrelated woman who, her picture was taken off facebook and the exact same scam went down, and that this person also thought it was real, and all this stuff. a phenomenon calmed catfishing and there's an mtv show about this. apparent lir this tuiasosopo did it as a sick hobby. >> mr. tuiasosopo, we need to ask the question, what's up with you? what's wrong with you doing this? >> exactly. >> thank you so much, and we'll look forward to seeing you again. have a good one. >> thanks, alex. in a moment, the deadly hostage standoff in algeria. talking for the first time, the hostages. you'll hear from them next, here on "weekends with alex witt."
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developing now we're hearing from the hostages who escaped al qaeda linked captives in algeria. right now the gunmen are barricaded in a gas plant holding an unknown number of hostages. military efforts to free the captives killed a resident from texas among an unknown number of others. those who escaped are certainly glad to be out but remain worried. >> very, very relieved, obviously. we still don't know really what's happening. i couldn't say. as much as we're glad to be out our thoughts are with our colleagues still there at the moment. >> joining me here in studio "the washington post" national security reporter. welcome to you. i asked you in the commercial break why is it that there is so much confusion about this? because we're hearing numbers
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that then don't add up and it's hard to get the information i can imagine. >> yes. it is frustrating a story as we've ever covered. it is not just the media but the governments don't know and they complain about this very aggressively. >> so how do they plan for attack or rescue? >> there's been no coordination. the algerians essentially decided to do this on their own without relying on partners for the expertise the americans and french and others could bring to this. >> we heard one man who was rescued or escaped. talk about how that happened and what else are we hearing? >> this has been a harrowing situation from the beginning. you have hundreds of people working at this remote base. the gunmen come in, separate out the foreigners, put explosives around the heads of some of them so they know they're going to get killed if there is a hostage rescue attempt or if they try to escape. some were shot in cold blood. we're getting these stories from captives. it is as bad as it gets and still not over. we don't know how many are inside the plant. >> with regard to americans the number i was told we have five
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one of whom confirmed dead, two escaped, and two remain inside. >> that is the latest accounting we know. two still on the inside we're not sure if they're missing, hiding. some had gone into hiding in their rooms or other places or they may be hostages. >> we heard from secretary clinton's office the u.s. does not negotiate with hostage takers. what is left to do? rescue attempts? >> there could be rescue attempts. the algerians are still at it. there are american assets on the ground. i think there will be commandos in that sense. we've clearly rejected any possibility of an exchange. the militants suggested some kind of swap for the blind sheik remember him from the 1993 first world trade center bombing. but that isn't going to happen. it could be days longer before it is resolved. >> who are the hostage takers and how far is their reach? >> this is a strange group all loosely affiliated with al qaeda and the off shoot group of al qaeda but this particular group is led by a very charismatic
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interesting man, a one-eyed veteran of the afghan conflict. he is kind of an opportunist, a criminal. he smuggles cigarettes and drugs. they call him the marble man because apparently he is the go-to guy because if you want cigarettes in northern africa he has the supply. >> how involved might the u.s. get trying to get the two americans out? >> the americans are deeply committed to resolving the situation through the algerians and others but i think have a bigger view of wanting to take on this bigger problem of al qaeda and its affiliates in this part of the world. it's a worsening problem. as we've seen in recent days they've been trying to take over the government of mali and we'll see many operations like this to come. >> is this group a threat to the united states and our citizens domestically? >> they haven't made those statements typically. they seem very focused on local issues but if you look at somalia and how it has gone from being a flormal africa country to essentially a failed state run by criminals and from which
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militants can strike out around the world that is a situation we're seeing in algeria and mali right now. >> always a pleasure. good to see you, my friend. that is a wrap of this hour of "weekends with alex witt." be sure to join me for a two-hour edition of the show today at noon eastern time. straight ahead "up with chris hayes". l bonus. and everyone but her likes 50% more cash, but i have an idea. do you want a princess dress? yes. cupcakes? yes. do you want an etch-a-sketch? yes! do you want 50% more cash? no. you got talent. [ male announcer ] the capital one cash rewards card gives you 1% cash back on every purchase plus a 50% annual bonus on the cash you earn. it's the card for people who like more cash. what's in your wallet? i usually say that. i'm up next, but now i'm singing the heartburn blues. hold on, prilosec isn't for fast relief.
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